The Jackets will make their fifth straight appearance in the Class AA State Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. There will be one big difference, however — the team that’s staring back across the field at them.
Calhoun will not be playing Buford, the team that they’ve competed against the last four years. Instead, they will square off against Jefferson as they look for their second straight state title.
Calhoun head coach Hal Lamb said just the fact that his team is playing in the game again is truly a remarkable accomplishment no matter the outcome.
“It’s unbelievable for us to be playing for a state title for the fifth year in a row,” said Lamb. “It says a lot about Calhoun football.
“This community deserves everything they get. We’ve got the total picture here with the community and administration’s support and the players and coaches that work so hard. I’m just pleased to be a part of it.”
The Jackets (14-0) enter the game coming off a nail-biting 21-14 win over Lamar County last week that required a Donnell Anthony interception in the end zone as time expired to seal the victory. It was the first real adversity Calhoun has faced since Week 3 of the season when they won a shootout against Carrollton, 46-35.
Lamb said he thinks the game will serve as a wake-up call to his players.
“I really hope so,” said Lamb. “After looking at the tape, we did a lot of uncharacteristic things, especially offensively. We just didn’t do things the way we have all year. Maybe that game opened our eyes because we were just a few plays away from losing it.”
Jefferson (12-1) didn’t have as hard of a time in the semifinals last week as they easily defeated GAC, 42-14. They did, however, have to win a triple-overtime shootout against Fitzgerald in the third round, 53-51.
Lamb said Jefferson is a very formidable opponent.
“They look very impressive on film,” said Lamb. “They do things the right way. Offensively, they’re very good and they won’t beat themselves. And defensively, they’re never out of position.
“It’s going to be an extremely tough test, but that’s what you have to expect in the state championship game.”
The game will be the second-ever meeting between the two teams. The Jackets defeated Jefferson, 39-6, in the first round of the playoffs last season. Lamb said having played them just last year should help with x’s and o’s, but with both teams having as many new players, it won’t be an advantage for either team.
A few of the players that made an impact in last year’s championship game for Calhoun will be back in that role again on Saturday. Senior quarterback Taylor Lamb had a big game at the Georgia Dome last year in the Jackets’ 27-24 win over Buford. He threw for 198 yards and a TD and also had a 15-yard rushing touchdown. The Jackets’ lone returning starter on defense, Anthony, also had a part in the win, forcing a fumble.
Hal Lamb said a key to the game would be his team just playing the way they had in the first three playoff games among several other objectives.
“We’ve got to do what we do,” said Lamb. “We’ve gotten away from that lately. “Another big thing is we have to get them to the ground on defense. We can’t miss tackles because they will hurt us if we do.”
Tickets for the state championship game are available for presale at Calhoun High School. Presale tickets are $18 at the school. Tickets purchased the day of the game at the Georgia Dome are $20.